Wide World of Quotes > Frederick Douglass Quotes


Frederick Douglass
American former slave and civil rights campaigner
(c. 1818 -1895)



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Every tone [of the songs sung by the slaves] was a testimony against slavery, and prayer to God for deliverance from chains.
-- Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845)

The singing of a man cast away upon a desolate island might be as appropriately considered as evidence of contentment and happiness, as the singing of a slave...
-- Narrative of the Life of an American Slave (1845)

For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.
-- What to the Slave is the Fourth of July? (1852)

There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices , more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.
-- What to the Slave is the Fourth of July? (1852)

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning...
-- Address on West India Emancipation (1852)

The day dawns; the morning star is bright upon the horizon! The iron gate of our prison stands half open. One gallant rush from the North will fling it wide open, while four millions of our brothers and sisters shall march out into liberty. The chance is now given you to end in a day the bondage of centuries, and to rise in one bound from social degradation to the place of common equality with all other varieties of men.
-- Men of Color, To Arms! (1863), supporting the Union (the North) in the American Civil War


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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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